What's Your Question?
10 Great Essay Writing Tips
Knowing how to write a college essay is a useful skill for anyone who plans to go to college. Most colleges and universities ask you to submit a writing sample with your application. As a student, you’ll also write essays in your courses. Impress your professors with your knowledge and skill by using these great essay writing tips.
Prepare to Answer the Question
Most college essays ask you to answer a question or synthesize information you learned in class. Review notes you have from lectures, read the recommended texts and make sure you understand the topic. You should refer to these sources in your essay.
Plan Your Essay
Many students see planning as a waste of time, but it actually saves you time. Take a few minutes to think about the topic and what you want to say about it. You can write an outline, draw a chart or use a graphic organizer to arrange your ideas. This gives you a chance to spot problems in your ideas before you spend time writing out the paragraphs.
Choose a Writing Method That Feels Comfortable
You might have to type your essay before turning it in, but that doesn’t mean you have to write it that way. Some people find it easy to write out their ideas by hand. Others prefer typing in a word processor where they can erase and rewrite as needed. Find the one that works best for you and stick with it.
View It as a Conversation
Writing is a form of communication, so think of your essay as a conversation between you and the reader. Think about your response to the source material and the topic. Decide what you want to tell the reader about the topic. Then, stay focused on your response as you write.
Provide the Context in the Introduction
If you look at an example of an essay introduction, you’ll see that the best essays give the reader a context. Think of how you introduce two people to each other. You share the details you think they will find most interesting. Do this in your essay by stating what it’s about and then telling readers what the issue is.
Explain What Needs to be Explained
Sometimes you have to explain concepts or define words to help the reader understand your viewpoint. You also have to explain the reasoning behind your ideas. For example, it’s not enough to write that your greatest achievement is running an ultra marathon. You might need to define ultra marathon and explain why finishing the race is such an accomplishment.
Answer All the Questions
After you finish writing the first draft of your essay, make sure you’ve answered all the questions you were supposed to answer. For example, essays in compare and contrast format should show the similarities and differences between ideas, objects or events. If you’re writing about a significant achievement, describe what you did and how it affected you.
Stay Focused as You Write
Writing requires concentration. Find a place where you have few distractions and give yourself time to write without interruptions. Don’t wait until the night before the essay is due to start working on it.
Read the Essay Aloud to Proofread
When you finish writing your essay, read it aloud. You can do this by yourself or ask someone to listen to you read it. You’ll notice places where the ideas don’t make sense, and your listener can give you feedback about your ideas.
Avoid Filling the Page with Words
A great essay does more than follow an essay layout. It has something to say. Sometimes students panic and write everything they know about a topic or summarize everything in the source material. Your job as a writer is to show why this information is important.
MORE FROM QUESTIONSANSWERED.NET
Have a language expert improve your writing
Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.
- Knowledge Base
- How to write a rhetorical analysis | Key concepts & examples
How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis | Key Concepts & Examples
Published on August 28, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on December 5, 2022.
A rhetorical analysis is a type of essay that looks at a text in terms of rhetoric. This means it is less concerned with what the author is saying than with how they say it: their goals, techniques, and appeals to the audience.
Table of contents
Key concepts in rhetoric, analyzing the text, introducing your rhetorical analysis, the body: doing the analysis, concluding a rhetorical analysis, frequently asked questions about rhetorical analysis.
Rhetoric, the art of effective speaking and writing, is a subject that trains you to look at texts, arguments and speeches in terms of how they are designed to persuade the audience. This section introduces a few of the key concepts of this field.
Appeals: Logos, ethos, pathos
Appeals are how the author convinces their audience. Three central appeals are discussed in rhetoric, established by the philosopher Aristotle and sometimes called the rhetorical triangle: logos, ethos, and pathos.
Logos , or the logical appeal, refers to the use of reasoned argument to persuade. This is the dominant approach in academic writing , where arguments are built up using reasoning and evidence.
Ethos , or the ethical appeal, involves the author presenting themselves as an authority on their subject. For example, someone making a moral argument might highlight their own morally admirable behavior; someone speaking about a technical subject might present themselves as an expert by mentioning their qualifications.
Pathos , or the pathetic appeal, evokes the audience’s emotions. This might involve speaking in a passionate way, employing vivid imagery, or trying to provoke anger, sympathy, or any other emotional response in the audience.
These three appeals are all treated as integral parts of rhetoric, and a given author may combine all three of them to convince their audience.
Text and context
In rhetoric, a text is not necessarily a piece of writing (though it may be this). A text is whatever piece of communication you are analyzing. This could be, for example, a speech, an advertisement, or a satirical image.
In these cases, your analysis would focus on more than just language—you might look at visual or sonic elements of the text too.
The context is everything surrounding the text: Who is the author (or speaker, designer, etc.)? Who is their (intended or actual) audience? When and where was the text produced, and for what purpose?
Looking at the context can help to inform your rhetorical analysis. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech has universal power, but the context of the civil rights movement is an important part of understanding why.
Claims, supports, and warrants
A piece of rhetoric is always making some sort of argument, whether it’s a very clearly defined and logical one (e.g. in a philosophy essay) or one that the reader has to infer (e.g. in a satirical article). These arguments are built up with claims, supports, and warrants.
A claim is the fact or idea the author wants to convince the reader of. An argument might center on a single claim, or be built up out of many. Claims are usually explicitly stated, but they may also just be implied in some kinds of text.
The author uses supports to back up each claim they make. These might range from hard evidence to emotional appeals—anything that is used to convince the reader to accept a claim.
The warrant is the logic or assumption that connects a support with a claim. Outside of quite formal argumentation, the warrant is often unstated—the author assumes their audience will understand the connection without it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still explore the implicit warrant in these cases.
For example, look at the following statement:
We can see a claim and a support here, but the warrant is implicit. Here, the warrant is the assumption that more likeable candidates would have inspired greater turnout. We might be more or less convinced by the argument depending on whether we think this is a fair assumption.
Rhetorical analysis isn’t a matter of choosing concepts in advance and applying them to a text. Instead, it starts with looking at the text in detail and asking the appropriate questions about how it works:
- What is the author’s purpose?
- Do they focus closely on their key claims, or do they discuss various topics?
- What tone do they take—angry or sympathetic? Personal or authoritative? Formal or informal?
- Who seems to be the intended audience? Is this audience likely to be successfully reached and convinced?
- What kinds of evidence are presented?
By asking these questions, you’ll discover the various rhetorical devices the text uses. Don’t feel that you have to cram in every rhetorical term you know—focus on those that are most important to the text.
The following sections show how to write the different parts of a rhetorical analysis.
Receive feedback on language, structure, and formatting
Professional editors proofread and edit your paper by focusing on:
- Academic style
- Vague sentences
- Style consistency
See an example
Like all essays, a rhetorical analysis begins with an introduction . The introduction tells readers what text you’ll be discussing, provides relevant background information, and presents your thesis statement .
Hover over different parts of the example below to see how an introduction works.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is widely regarded as one of the most important pieces of oratory in American history. Delivered in 1963 to thousands of civil rights activists outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the speech has come to symbolize the spirit of the civil rights movement and even to function as a major part of the American national myth. This rhetorical analysis argues that King’s assumption of the prophetic voice, amplified by the historic size of his audience, creates a powerful sense of ethos that has retained its inspirational power over the years.
The body of your rhetorical analysis is where you’ll tackle the text directly. It’s often divided into three paragraphs, although it may be more in a longer essay.
Each paragraph should focus on a different element of the text, and they should all contribute to your overall argument for your thesis statement.
Hover over the example to explore how a typical body paragraph is constructed.
King’s speech is infused with prophetic language throughout. Even before the famous “dream” part of the speech, King’s language consistently strikes a prophetic tone. He refers to the Lincoln Memorial as a “hallowed spot” and speaks of rising “from the dark and desolate valley of segregation” to “make justice a reality for all of God’s children.” The assumption of this prophetic voice constitutes the text’s strongest ethical appeal; after linking himself with political figures like Lincoln and the Founding Fathers, King’s ethos adopts a distinctly religious tone, recalling Biblical prophets and preachers of change from across history. This adds significant force to his words; standing before an audience of hundreds of thousands, he states not just what the future should be, but what it will be: “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.” This warning is almost apocalyptic in tone, though it concludes with the positive image of the “bright day of justice.” The power of King’s rhetoric thus stems not only from the pathos of his vision of a brighter future, but from the ethos of the prophetic voice he adopts in expressing this vision.
The conclusion of a rhetorical analysis wraps up the essay by restating the main argument and showing how it has been developed by your analysis. It may also try to link the text, and your analysis of it, with broader concerns.
Explore the example below to get a sense of the conclusion.
It is clear from this analysis that the effectiveness of King’s rhetoric stems less from the pathetic appeal of his utopian “dream” than it does from the ethos he carefully constructs to give force to his statements. By framing contemporary upheavals as part of a prophecy whose fulfillment will result in the better future he imagines, King ensures not only the effectiveness of his words in the moment but their continuing resonance today. Even if we have not yet achieved King’s dream, we cannot deny the role his words played in setting us on the path toward it.
The goal of a rhetorical analysis is to explain the effect a piece of writing or oratory has on its audience, how successful it is, and the devices and appeals it uses to achieve its goals.
Unlike a standard argumentative essay , it’s less about taking a position on the arguments presented, and more about exploring how they are constructed.
The term “text” in a rhetorical analysis essay refers to whatever object you’re analyzing. It’s frequently a piece of writing or a speech, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, you could also treat an advertisement or political cartoon as a text.
Logos appeals to the audience’s reason, building up logical arguments . Ethos appeals to the speaker’s status or authority, making the audience more likely to trust them. Pathos appeals to the emotions, trying to make the audience feel angry or sympathetic, for example.
Collectively, these three appeals are sometimes called the rhetorical triangle . They are central to rhetorical analysis , though a piece of rhetoric might not necessarily use all of them.
In rhetorical analysis , a claim is something the author wants the audience to believe. A support is the evidence or appeal they use to convince the reader to believe the claim. A warrant is the (often implicit) assumption that links the support with the claim.
Cite this Scribbr article
If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.
Caulfield, J. (2022, December 05). How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis | Key Concepts & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved March 13, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/rhetorical-analysis/
Is this article helpful?
Other students also liked, how to write an argumentative essay | examples & tips, how to write a literary analysis essay | a step-by-step guide, comparing and contrasting in an essay | tips & examples, what is your plagiarism score.
Find Study Materials for
Create Study Materials
Select your language
Rhetorical Analysis Essay
Want to get better grades, get free, full access to:.
- Study Planner
- Textbook solutions
- A Hook for an Essay
- Body Paragraph
- Essay Outline
- Language Used in Academic Writing
- MHRA Referencing
- Opinion vs Fact
- Works Cited
- Emotional Arguments in Essays
- Ethical Arguments in Essays
- Logical Arguments in Essays
- The Argument
- Writing an Argumentative Essay
- Image Caption
- Personal Blog
- Professional Blog
- Anaphoric Reference
- Cataphoric Reference
- Discourse Analysis
- Discourse Markers
- Endophoric Reference
- Exophoric Reference
- John Swales Discourse Communities
- Email Closings
- Email Introduction
- Email Salutation
- Email Signature
- Email Subject Lines
- Formal Email
- Informal Email
- Active Voice
- Adjective Phrase
- Adverb Phrase
- Complex Sentence
- Compound Adjectives
- Compound Sentence
- Conditional Sentences
- Coordinating Conjunctions
- Copula Verbs
- Correlative Conjunctions
- Dangling Participle
- Demonstrative Pronouns
- Dependent Clause
- Descriptive Adjectives
- Future Tense
- Grammatical Mood
- Grammatical Voices
- Imperative Mood
- Indefinite Pronouns
- Independent Clause
- Indicative Mood
- Infinitive Mood
- Interrogative Mood
- Irregular Verbs
- Linking Verb
- Misplaced Modifiers
- Modal Verbs
- Noun Phrase
- Optative Mood
- Passive Voice
- Past Perfect Tense
- Perfect Aspect
- Personal Pronouns
- Possessive Pronouns
- Potential Mood
- Prepositional Phrase
- Present Participle
- Present Perfect Progressive
- Present Perfect Tense
- Present Tense
- Progressive Aspect
- Proper Adjectives
- Reflexive Pronouns
- Relative Pronouns
- Sentence Functions
- Simple Sentence
- Subjunctive Mood
- Subordinating Conjunctions
- Superlative Adjectives
- Transitive and Intransitive Verbs
- Types of Phrases
- Types of Sentence
- Verb Phrase
- Academic English
- Anglo Saxon Roots and Prefixes
- Bilingual Dictionaries
- English Dictionaries
- English Vocabulary
- Greek Roots, Suffixes and Prefixes
- Latin Roots, Suffixes and Prefixes
- Modern English
- Object category
- Regional Dialects
- Rhyming Dictionary
- Sentence Fragments
- Social Dialects
- Subject Predicate Relationship
- Subject Verb Agreement
- Word Pronunciation
- Essay Time Management
- How To Take a Position in an Essay
- Organize Your Prompt
- Proofread Essay
- Understanding the Prompt
- Analytical Essay
- Cause and Effect Essay
- Claims and Evidence
- Descriptive Essay
- Expository Essay
- Narrative Essay
- Persuasive Essay
- Essay Sources and Presenting Research
- Essay Structure
- Essay Topic
- Point Evidence Explain
- Research Question
- Sources of Data Collection
- Transcribing Spoken Data
- Australian English
- British Accents
- British Sign Language
- Guided Discovery
- Indian English
- Lesson Plan
- Received Pronunciation
- Total Physical Response
- Multimodal Texts
- Orthographic Features
- Typographical Features
- Great Vowel Shift
- Inflectional Morphemes
- King James Bible
- Language Family
- Language Isolate
- Middle English
- Old English Language
- Scottish English
- Shakespearean English
- Accent vs Dialect
- Code Switching
- Descriptivism vs Prescriptivism
- Dialect Levelling
- English as a lingua franca
- Kachru's 3 Concentric Circles
- Language Changes
- Pidgin and Creole
- Rhotic Accent
- Social Interaction
- Standard English
- Standardisation of English
- Strevens Model of English
- Technological Determinism
- Vernacular English
- World Englishes
- Language Stereotypes
- Language and Politics
- Language and Power
- Language and Technology
- Media Linguistics
- Michel Foucault Discourse Theory
- Norman Fairclough
- Behavioral Theory
- Cognitive Theory
- Critical Period
- Down Syndrome Language
- Functional Basis of Language
- Interactionist Theory
- Language Acquisition Device (LAD)
- Language Acquisition Support System
- Language Acquisition in Children
- Multiword Stage
- One-Word stage
- Theories of Language Acquisition
- Two-Word Stage
- Williams Syndrome
- Grammatical Voice
- Literary Context
- Literary Purpose
- Literary Representation
- Mode English Language
- Narrative Perspective
- Poetic Voice
- Accommodation Theory
- Bernstein Elaborated and Restricted Code
- Casual Register
- Concept of Face
- Consultative Register
- Deficit Approach
- Difference Approach
- Diversity Approach
- Dominance Approach
- Drew and Heritage Institutional Talk
- Eckert Jocks and Burnouts
- Formal Register
- Frozen Register
- Gary Ives Bradford Study
- Holmes Code Switching
- Intimate Register
- Labov- New York Department Store Study
- Language and Age
- Language and Class
- Language and Ethnicity
- Language and Gender
- Language and Identity
- Language and Occupation
- Marked and Unmarked Terms
- Neutral Register
- Peter Trudgill- Norwich Study
- Phatic Talk and Banter
- Register and Style
- Sinclair and Coulthard
- Social Network Theory
- Sociolect vs Idiolect
- Variety vs Standard English
- Connotative Meaning
- Denotative Meaning
- Figurative Language
- Fixed Expressions
- Formal Language
- Informal Language
- Irony English Language
- Levels of Formality
- Lexical Ambiguity
- Literary Positioning
- Occupational Register
- Paradigmatic Relations
- Rhetorical Figures
- Semantic Change
- Semantic Reclamation
- Syntagmatic Relations
- Text Structure
- 1984 Newspeak
- Critical Theory
- Forensic Linguistics
- Linguistic Determinism
- Logical Positivism
- Natural Language Processing
- Rhetorical Analysis
- Sapir Whorf Hypothesis
- Active Listening Skills
- Address Counterclaims
- Group Discussion
- Presentation Skills
- Presentation Technology
- Compound Words
- Derivational Morphemes
- Lexical Morphology
- Active Reading
- Process of Elimination
- Words in Context
- Click Consonants
- Fundamental Frequency
- International Phonetic Alphabet
- Manner of Articulation
- Nasal Sound
- Oral Cavity
- Phonetic Accommodation
- Phonetic Assimilation
- Place of Articulation
- Sound Spectrum
- Source Filter Theory
- Voice Articulation
- Vowel Chart
- Sound Symbolisms
- Communication Accommodation Theory
- Conversational Implicature
- Cooperative Principle
- Deictic centre
- Deictic expressions
- Figure of Speech
- Grice's Conversational Maxims
- Politeness Theory
- Semantics vs. Pragmatics
- Speech Acts
- Aggressive vs Friendly Tone
- Curious vs Encouraging Tone
- Feminine Rhyme
- Hypocritical vs Cooperative Tone
- Masculine Rhyme
- Monosyllabic Rhyme
- Optimistic vs Worried Tone
- Serious vs Humorous Tone
- Surprised Tone
- Tone English Langugage
- Analyzing Informational Texts
- Comparing Texts
- Context Cues
- Creative Writing
- Digital Resources
- Ethical Issues In Data Collection
- Formulate Questions
- Internet Search Engines
- Literary Analysis
- Personal Writing
- Print Resources
- Research Process
- Research and Analysis
- Technical Writing
- Action Verbs
- Adjectival Clause
- Adverbial Clause
- Appositive Phrase
- Argument from Authority
- Auditory Description
- Basic Rhetorical Modes
- Begging the Question
- Building Credibility
- Causal Flaw
- Causal Relationships
- Cause and Effect Rhetorical Mode
- Central Idea
- Chronological Description
- Circular Reasoning
- Classical Appeals
- Close Reading
- Coherence Between Sentences
- Coherence within Paragraphs
- Coherences within Sentences
- Complex Rhetorical Modes
- Compound Complex Sentences
- Concrete Adjectives
- Concrete Nouns
- Consistent Voice
- Counter Argument
- Definition by Negation
- Description Rhetorical mode
- Direct Discourse
- Extended Metaphor
- False Connections
- False Dichotomy
- False Equivalence
- Faulty Analogy
- Faulty Causality
- Fear Arousing
- Gustatory Description
- Hasty Generalization
- Induction Rhetoric
- Levels of Coherence
- Line of Reasoning
- Missing the Point
- Modifiers that Qualify
- Modifiers that Specify
- Narration Rhetorical Mode
- Non-Testable Hypothesis
- Objective Description
- Olfactory Description
- Parenthetical Element
- Participial Phrase
- Personal Narrative
- Placement of Modifiers
- Post-Hoc Argument
- Process Analysis Rhetorical Mode
- Red Herring
- Reverse Causation
- Rhetorical Fallacy
- Rhetorical Modes
- Rhetorical Question
- Rhetorical Situation
- Scare Tactics
- Sentimental Appeals
- Situational Irony
- Slippery Slope
- Spatial Description
- Straw Man Argument
- Subject Consistency
- Subjective Description
- Tactile Description
- Tense Consistency
- Tone and Word Choice
- Twisting the Language Around
- Unstated Assumption
- Verbal Irony
- Visual Description
- Authorial Intent
- Authors Technique
- Language Choice
- Prompt Audience
- Prompt Purpose
- Rhetorical Strategies
- Understanding Your Audience
- Auditory Imagery
- Gustatory Imagery
- Olfactory Imagery
- Tactile Imagery
- Main Idea and Supporting Detail
- Statistical Evidence
- Cultural Competence
- Intercultural Communication
- Research Methodology
- Object Subject Verb
- Subject Verb Object
- Verb Subject Object
- Author Authority
- Direct Quote
- First Paragraph
- Historical Context
- Intended Audience
- Primary Source
- Second Paragraph
- Secondary Source
- Source Material
- Third Paragraph
- Character Analysis
- Citation Analysis
- Text Structure Analysis
- Vocabulary Assessment
Lerne mit deinen Freunden und bleibe auf dem richtigen Kurs mit deinen persönlichen Lernstatistiken
Nie wieder prokastinieren mit unseren Lernerinnerungen.
An essay is a form of art. In fact, the word essay comes from the French word essayer which means "to attempt" or "to dare." Like the other kinds of essay, a rhetorical analysis essay is a kind of adventure: one that crosses the realms of logic, emotions, and ethics. Journey on!
Rhetorical Analysis Definition
An essay is supposed to be the exploration of a specific subject. One such essay is the rhetorical analysis essay .
A rhetorical analysis is an essay that breaks down an author's argument. It examines how an author or speaker says something.
Rhetorical Analysis Essay Elements
Rhetoric is the art of persuasion. According to Aristotle, three types of appeals can sway a person into believing something. They are classically known as logos, pathos, and ethos. These appeals can persuade because of human nature.
In addition to the classical appeals, it is important to remember who the speaker and the audience are. Whether or not the speaker is a scientist, politician, businessman, or everyday person matters.
The first appeal is logos , an appeal to reason. People can think through arguments, string together facts, analyze data and conclude whether or not it is true.
If a writer uses logos in their text, they might cite a statistic or scientific study. Or they might create a syllogism . Another example is that they may ask questions about a subject and analyze that subject. There are countless ways to use reason in an argument. Generally logos is the core of an argument.
Syllogism is an argument of three statements. The first two are ideas assumed to be true, and the third is a logical conclusion.
The reason that logos is an effective appeal is that it is hard to argue with facts. Moreover, it puts the author in good faith because it shows that the author is pursuing the truth, not personal gain.
However, the use of too much logos, or solely using logos, gives the impression that a writer is cold and distant. It can also come across as boring and plain. Using too much of any one of the appeals is disastrous and fails to persuade audiences.
Logos is necessary for a good argument, but it is best suited in academic settings. Schools are centered on the pursuit of truth and critical thinking. When a paper written for research is examined, the most important aspect of that paper is the appeal to logos.
pathos is an appeal to an audience's emotions. pathos makes use of concrete language, vivid images, and stories. pathos is what makes an argument feel like it is true. It helps the audience to feel sympathy, empathy, anger, happiness, or sadness. It usually makes the speaker and their argument more human.
It is also useful in the employment of analogies because analogies take ideas and make them feel like real objects; this usually makes an appeal to logos easier to understand.
Pathos establishes a human connection. But when pathos alone is used, it can make the audience feel or think that their emotions are being manipulated.
Audiences may enjoy the use of pathos but dismiss an argument that lacks the other appeals.
Ethos is an appeal to authority. To put it in simpler terms, a speaker who uses ethos "walks the walk and talks the talks." When a speaker uses ethos, it shows that they have some experience in whatever subject is being discussed.
For example, a physicist giving a lecture on physics to a group of scientists would talk about their experience, past studies, or credentials before they continued with their lecture. Ethos gives a speaker credibility; it establishes and proves their trustworthiness as an expert.
Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline
The structure of a Rhetorical Analysis Essay follows something similar to that of any other essay. It begins with a thesis, or the argument that you are making, in the first paragraph or two. Next is the body, in which you analyze how an author utilizes the rhetorical appeals previously discussed and if the author is successful in using the appeals. Finally, the final paragraph should be a conclusion that wraps up your argument . This structure is then used to create an outline for the essay.
Rhetorical analysis essay examples are included!
Outline of a Rhetorical Analysis Essay
A thesis statement is the introduction of an argument for a paper. It should be written in the first paragraph of the essay. It briefly summarizes the argument and evidence that is going to be explored in the rest of the paper. It can be thought of as stating what your argument is.
Jonathon Edwards powerfully uses pathos to instill fear and dread in his sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God . The sense of dread is meant to motivate the listeners to change their beliefs and actions .
This thesis statement succeeds because it says what rhetorical devices are going to be analyzed and in what text . It also has an argument that states the purpose of Edwards' argument.
If the thesis statement tells you what the argument is, then the body shows why your argument is right and provides evidence to support it. A good approach is to analyze the three classical appeals and how they are used in the text.
It is also important to analyze who the speaker is and who the audience is. You can analyze all three appeals (e.g. observe one appeal in a paragraph or two), or you can analyze just one of the appeals (e.g. analyzing only pathos like the example below). You could also analyze the relationship between two or all three of the appeals.
Edwards's pathos appeals to fear. He does so by creating a terrifying image of hell as a place of fire, destruction, and infinite torture. He says that the sinner "deserve[s] to be cast into hell" and that "justice calls aloud for infinite punishment." God in his anger holds "[t]he sword of divine justice is every moment brandished over their heads." 1 Moreover, the listener who believed in such a place of hell would have remembered his own sins and been terrified by his doom.
This analysis works because it explains how pathos is being used and then uses textual evidence to support its claim.
The last part you'll write is the conclusion. This is important and deserves its own section!
Rhetorical Analysis Conclusion
The conclusion is the final statement of a paper. It summarizes the main argument and the evidence that has been presented throughout the essay. It also highlights the most important aspects of the essay and whether the author of the original text was successful or not in their use of the appeals.
The sinner who heard Edwards would have been so struck with fear that he would repent of his sins . This is because Edwards's imagery of hell and description of a wrathful God scared sinners so much that they did not need a rational reason to convert . Edwards's power of pathos tapped into their instinct to survive in both this life and their next one.
This conclusion works because it recaps the argument , but it also concludes the argument with the most important reason why Edwards's pathos was effective . Plus, it makes a statement on whether or not Edwards's argument was successful .
Rhetorical Analysis Essay - Key Takeaways
- A Rhetorical Analysis Essay analyzes how an author or speaker says something, instead of what they say.
- When analyzing rhetoric, you can determine how persuasive someone is based on how effectively they use logos, pathos, and ethos .
- Logos is the persuasive appeal to rationality, reason, and abstract thought. Pathos is the persuasive appeal to emotions and concrete ideas. Ethos is the persuasive appeal to a speaker's credibility and expertise.
- Logos , pathos, and ethos were derived from Aristotle's theory of rhetoric.
- A rhetorical analysis essay is outlined and structured similar to any other essay. It includes an introduction with a thesis statement , body paragraphs with supporting evidence , and a conclusion.
1 Jonathan Edwards. Sinners in the Hands of Angry God. 1741.
Frequently Asked Questions about Rhetorical Analysis Essay
--> what is a rhetorical analysis essay.
A rhetorical analysis essay analyzes the devices of persuasion and their effectiveness. It breaks down an author's argument and examines not what is said, but it's said.
--> How should you write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?
A rhetorical analysis essay begins with a thesis that makes an argument about whether or not a speaker or author was persuasive. The body analyzes the three Aristotelian appeals and says why they're effective or not. The conclusions wraps up the entire essay into a coherent argument.
--> What is an example of a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?
An example of a rhetorical analysis essay would be an essay that examines how pathos is used in The Great Gatsby.
--> What are the features of a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?
The main features of a rhetorical analysis essay are the analysis of logos, pathos, and ethos .
--> What is the structure of a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?
A rhetorical analysis essay is structured similarly to any other essay including an introductory paragraph with a thesis, body paragraphs with supporting evidence, and a conclusion.
Final Rhetorical Analysis Essay Quiz
What does a rhetorical analysis essay analyze?
How effective a person's argument is
What are the three classical appeals of persuasion?
Logos, pathos, ethos
Which appeal is meant to persuade by using reason?
Which appeal persuades by using emotion?
Who developed the classical appeals?
Which appeal persuades by giving the speaker credibility or authority?
A syllogism is an example of what kind of appeal?
Analogies, stories, and images are examples of what rhetorical appeal?
A scientific argument would mainly use what classic appeal?
What is the structure of a rhetorical analysis essay?
Thesis, Body, Conclusion
What does a thesis contain?
An essays primary argument
What does the body of a rhetorical analysis do?
Provides evidence and support for your thesis
What is a real audience?
A real audience is anyone who reads your writing.
What is an intended audience?
The intended audience is who you are trying to influence with your writing.
What two questions can you ask yourself when you want to determine the audience of a piece of writing?
- What is this paper about?
- What kind of people would this paper typically attract?
What three questions can you ask yourself when choosing a target audience for your paper?
- Who do I want to reach with my writing?
- What about my topic interests my audience?
- Who would agree/disagree with what I write?
Why is knowing your audience important?
Knowing your audience can help you structure your writing so that the main point of the paper, email, or story is most easily understood.
True or False:
The real audience and intended audience are never the same.
Ture or False:
When writing your paper, it's usually better to assume that your audience knows less than you.
What are the two types of audience that you must consider?
Real audience and intended audience.
Typically, the more specific your audience is the _____ the audience will be.
Typically, the more general your audience is the _____ the audience will be.
Why are counterarguments helpful in essays?
They can help emphasize why your thesis is correct!
What does "author's technique" mean?
An author's technique is the way they use their writing to create a desired response from a reader.
The reader's response is arguably the _______ of the text.
There are two major elements of author's technique: ______ & _______
Rhetorical strategies & language choice
How does rhetorical strategy function as a technique for authors to use?
It gives the text structure
What type of rhetorical strategy is a historical fiction author least likely to use as the main mode for their writing?
The following is an example of an author using what type of rhetorical strategy?
Libraries are an excellent place to study. Consider, for example, the enforced peace and quiet found in libraries everywhere.
How can knowing rhetorical strategies help a reader understand a piece of writing?
Knowing the rhetorical strategy an author chooses to use can give you insight into their motivation for writing, which is very helpful in understanding the text.
Sentence structure is an example of ________ as an author's technqiue.
Diction is another way of saying ________.
The difference between simile and metaphor is...
Similes use the words "like" or "as" to compare two things, whereas metaphors make a direct comparison.
Which literary device is missing from the list:
Which literary device communicates that one thing can represent something else?
Which literary device is used here? The wind is a bully today!
Which of the following is not an example of fictional element choice?
Why do author's choose one technique over another?
Every choice an author makes about how to write affects how the audience will receive the text. Different author techniques will produce different pieces of writing, and so authors make intentional decisions about how they choose to communicate their message.
What does language choice mean?
Language choice refers to the choice of words and style of expression an author uses, whether in speech or writing.
Language choice is also referred to as ________.
Language choice is a key element of rhetorical analysis because...
it communicates more than just the literal meaning of words.
The following is an example of which type of language choice:
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me? ( Amazing Grace, 1779)
True or false: People never shift from one way of speaking to another
Is an author more likely to use a colloquialism in formal writing or informal writing?
Language choice carries with it both connotations as well as __________.
implied or suggested meaning that is attached to a word
the literal meaning of words.
True or false: language choice can have connotations
What is an "emotional tag"
An implied or suggested meaning of a word
The following is an example of what type of language choice:
The meteorological situation is not favorable.
- Listening and Speaking
- Synthesis Essay
- Argumentative Essay
of the users don't pass the Rhetorical Analysis Essay quiz! Will you pass the quiz?
More explanations about Rhetorical Analysis Essay
Discover the right content for your subjects, business studies, combined science, english literature, environmental science, human geography, macroeconomics, microeconomics, no need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed packed into one app.
Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.
Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.
Create and find flashcards in record time.
Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.
Have all your study materials in one place.
Upload unlimited documents and save them online.
Identify your study strength and weaknesses.
Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.
Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.
Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.
Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.
Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.
Join millions of people in learning anywhere, anytime - every day
Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.
This is still free to read, it's not a paywall.
You need to register to keep reading, get free access to all of our study material, tailor-made.
Over 10 million students from across the world are already learning smarter.
StudySmarter bietet alles, was du für deinen Lernerfolg brauchst - in einer App!
- Rhetorical Analysis
- Analyzing Novels & Short Stories
- Analyzing Plays
- Analyzing Poetry
- Analyzing Scholarly Articles
- Analyzing Visual Images
- Rhetorical Terms
Words of Wisdom
Comics are a gateway drug to literacy.
— Art Spiegelman
Rhetoric is the study of how writers and speakers use words to influence an audience. A rhetorical analysis is an essay that breaks a work of non-fiction into parts and then explains how the parts work together to create a certain effect—whether to persuade, entertain or inform. You can also conduct a rhetorical analysis of a primarily visual argument such as a cartoon or advertisement, or an oral performance such as a speech. In this handout we will use the word rhetorician to refer to the author of a speech or document or to the creator of an advertisement, cartoon, or other visual work.
A rhetorical analysis should explore the rhetorician’s goals, the techniques (or tools) used, examples of those techniques, and the effectiveness of those techniques. When writing a rhetorical analysis, you are NOT saying whether or not you agree with the argument. Instead, you’re discussing how the rhetorician makes that argument and whether or not the approach used is successful.
Artistic and Inartistic Proofs
An artistic proof is created by the rhetorician and encompasses the appeals, canons, and most of the techniques given below. An inartistic proof is a proof that exists outside the mind of the rhetorician such as surveys, polls, testimonies, statistics, facts, and data. Either type of proof can help make a case.
An appeal is an attempt to earn audience approval or agreement by playing to natural human tendencies or common experience. There are three kinds of appeals: the pathetic, the ethical, and the logical.
The pathetic appeal invokes the audience’s emotion to gain acceptance and approval for the ideas expressed. (Note that in this context, the word “pathetic” has none of the negative connotations associated with it in other contexts but refers only to the ability to stir emotions.) In a pathetic appeal, rhetoricians tap a reader’s sympathy and compassion, anger and disappointment, desire for love, or sadness to convince the audience of their argument. Effective rhetoricians can create these feelings in an audience even if the feeling wasn’t there before.
The ethical appeal uses the writer’s own credibility and character to make a case and gain approval. Rhetoricians use themselves and their position as an “expert” or as a “good person” to give their argument presence and importance. An everyday example of this is a minister, rabbi, priest, or shaman—individuals who are followed because they have established themselves as moral authorities. Writers using ethos may offer a definition for an obscure term or detailed statistics to establish their authority and knowledge.
The logical appeal uses reason to make a case. Academic discourse is mostly logos-driven because academic audiences respect scholarship and evidence. Rhetoricians using logos rely on evidence and proof, whether the proof is hard data or careful reasoning.
Remember that a single document, speech, or advertisement can make all three appeals. Rhetoricians will often combine techniques in order to create a persuasive argument.
Building Analysis by Prewriting
In writing an effective rhetorical analysis, you should discuss the goal or purpose of the piece; the appeals, evidence, and techniques used and why; examples of those appeals, evidence, and techniques; and your explanation of why they did or didn’t work. A good place to start is to answer each of these considerations in a sentence or two on a scratch piece of paper. Don’t worry about how it sounds—just answer the questions.
Ex. Preliminary notes for a rhetorical analysis of Horace Miner’s article “Body Rituals Among the Nacirema”
The next step is to identify examples of these uncovered techniques in the text. For example, in discussing the use of a didactic tone, you might point to the following sentence as an example: “the anthropologist has become so familiar with the diversity of ways in which different people behave in similar situations that he is not apt to be surprised by even the most exotic customs.” You should have multiple examples for each technique used.
Next, address the effectiveness of each technique. For example, in Miner’s article, the didactic tone draws us in, but about halfway through the article we realize that Miner is talking about current American society and that “Nacirema” is “American” spelled backwards. We realize that the tone is ironic and that Miner is making a point about how Americans believe in magic and superstitions rather than being the enlightened, rational, and scientific creatures we imagine ourselves to be.
Thesis, Body, and Conclusion
After brainstorming and doing the actual analysis, you are ready to write a thesis. Remember to choose the three (or four) techniques for which you can make the strongest case. Rhetoricians employ many techniques; focus on the ones that are the most prevalent or interesting and that you can describe persuasively.
Finally, write your introduction, paragraphs, and conclusion. Following are a few tips for each.
An introduction should lead cleanly into your argument . If your argument involves an author’s stance on the death penalty, you might begin by giving factual data and/or the history of the death penalty. Remember that your argument begins with the first words of your paper. Your introduction should provide background that will make the reader see your argument’s relevance.
Each body paragraph should have its own topic sentence. Make sure every idea or sentence in a paragraph relates to its topic sentence; you don’t want to jump between topics. It gives your paper a sense of cohesion to place your body paragraphs in the same order in which they’re presented in your introduction. Consider how you will organize the paragraphs. Will you discuss each technique—every instance of ethos, then every instance of pathos, and finally every instance of logos—then end with a discussion of the overall effectiveness? Or will you review the essay in terms of the least effective technique to the most effective? Or will you use a chronological order, discussing each technique as it occurs sequentially? For the Nacirema paper, for example, the first paragraph could focus on the academic tone, the second on diction, and the third on common ground.
For each paragraph, give several examples and explain how those examples illustrate the technique being discussed. At the end of each body paragraph, make sure you connect your topic sentence back to your thesis. This creates cohesion, solidifies your argument, and provides a transition to your next topic.
Your conclusion should briefly restate your main argument. It should then apply your argument on a higher level. Why does your argument matter? What does it mean in the real world? For example, the conclusion of the rhetorical analysis of the Nacirema article may point out Miner’s underlying message of tolerance and appreciation of other cultures and how his authorial choices influenced the delivery of that message.
Also recommended for you:
- Features for Creative Writers
- Features for Work
- Features for Higher Education
- Features for Teachers
- Features for Non-Native Speakers
- Learn Blog Grammar Guide Events Community Academy eBooks Free Grammar Checker
- Free Grammar Checker
What Is a Rhetorical Analysis and How to Write a Great One
Writer and Teacher
Do you have to write a rhetorical analysis essay? Fear not! We’re here to explain exactly what rhetorical analysis means, how you should structure your essay, and give you some essential “dos and don’ts.”
What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?
How do you write a rhetorical analysis, what are the three rhetorical strategies, what are the five rhetorical situations, how to plan a rhetorical analysis essay, creating a rhetorical analysis essay, examples of great rhetorical analysis essays, final thoughts.
A rhetorical analysis essay studies how writers and speakers have used words to influence their audience. Think less about the words the author has used and more about the techniques they employ, their goals, and the effect this has on the audience.
In your analysis essay, you break a piece of text (including cartoons, adverts, and speeches) into sections and explain how each part works to persuade, inform, or entertain. You’ll explore the effectiveness of the techniques used, how the argument has been constructed, and give examples from the text.
A strong rhetorical analysis evaluates a text rather than just describes the techniques used. You don’t include whether you personally agree or disagree with the argument.
Structure a rhetorical analysis in the same way as most other types of academic essays . You’ll have an introduction to present your thesis, a main body where you analyze the text, which then leads to a conclusion.
Think about how the writer (also known as a rhetor) considers the situation that frames their communication:
- Topic: the overall purpose of the rhetoric
- Audience: this includes primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences
- Purpose: there are often more than one to consider
- Context and culture: the wider situation within which the rhetoric is placed
Back in the 4th century BC, Aristotle was talking about how language can be used as a means of persuasion. He described three principal forms —Ethos, Logos, and Pathos—often referred to as the Rhetorical Triangle . These persuasive techniques are still used today.
Rhetorical Strategy 1: Ethos
Are you more likely to buy a car from an established company that’s been an important part of your community for 50 years, or someone new who just started their business?
Reputation matters. Ethos explores how the character, disposition, and fundamental values of the author create appeal, along with their expertise and knowledge in the subject area.
Aristotle breaks ethos down into three further categories:
- Phronesis: skills and practical wisdom
- Arete: virtue
- Eunoia: goodwill towards the audience
Ethos-driven speeches and text rely on the reputation of the author. In your analysis, you can look at how the writer establishes ethos through both direct and indirect means.
Rhetorical Strategy 2: Pathos
Pathos-driven rhetoric hooks into our emotions. You’ll often see it used in advertisements, particularly by charities wanting you to donate money towards an appeal.
Common use of pathos includes:
- Vivid description so the reader can imagine themselves in the situation
- Personal stories to create feelings of empathy
- Emotional vocabulary that evokes a response
By using pathos to make the audience feel a particular emotion, the author can persuade them that the argument they’re making is compelling.
Rhetorical Strategy 3: Logos
Logos uses logic or reason. It’s commonly used in academic writing when arguments are created using evidence and reasoning rather than an emotional response. It’s constructed in a step-by-step approach that builds methodically to create a powerful effect upon the reader.
Rhetoric can use any one of these three techniques, but effective arguments often appeal to all three elements.
The rhetorical situation explains the circumstances behind and around a piece of rhetoric. It helps you think about why a text exists, its purpose, and how it’s carried out.
The rhetorical situations are:
- 1) Purpose: Why is this being written? (It could be trying to inform, persuade, instruct, or entertain.)
- 2) Audience: Which groups or individuals will read and take action (or have done so in the past)?
- 3) Genre: What type of writing is this?
- 4) Stance: What is the tone of the text? What position are they taking?
- 5) Media/Visuals: What means of communication are used?
Understanding and analyzing the rhetorical situation is essential for building a strong essay. Also think about any rhetoric restraints on the text, such as beliefs, attitudes, and traditions that could affect the author's decisions.
Before leaping into your essay, it’s worth taking time to explore the text at a deeper level and considering the rhetorical situations we looked at before. Throw away your assumptions and use these simple questions to help you unpick how and why the text is having an effect on the audience.
1: What is the Rhetorical Situation?
- Why is there a need or opportunity for persuasion?
- How do words and references help you identify the time and location?
- What are the rhetoric restraints?
- What historical occasions would lead to this text being created?
2: Who is the Author?
- How do they position themselves as an expert worth listening to?
- What is their ethos?
- Do they have a reputation that gives them authority?
- What is their intention?
- What values or customs do they have?
A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.
3: Who is it Written For?
- Who is the intended audience?
- How is this appealing to this particular audience?
- Who are the possible secondary and tertiary audiences?
4: What is the Central Idea?
- Can you summarize the key point of this rhetoric?
- What arguments are used?
- How has it developed a line of reasoning?
5: How is it Structured?
- What structure is used?
- How is the content arranged within the structure?
6: What Form is Used?
- Does this follow a specific literary genre?
- What type of style and tone is used, and why is this?
- Does the form used complement the content?
- What effect could this form have on the audience?
7: Is the Rhetoric Effective?
- Does the content fulfil the author’s intentions?
- Does the message effectively fit the audience, location, and time period?
Once you’ve fully explored the text, you’ll have a better understanding of the impact it’s having on the audience and feel more confident about writing your essay outline.
A great essay starts with an interesting topic. Choose carefully so you’re personally invested in the subject and familiar with it rather than just following trending topics. There are lots of great ideas on this blog post by My Perfect Words if you need some inspiration. Take some time to do background research to ensure your topic offers good analysis opportunities.
Remember to check the information given to you by your professor so you follow their preferred style guidelines. This outline example gives you a general idea of a format to follow, but there will likely be specific requests about layout and content in your course handbook. It’s always worth asking your institution if you’re unsure.
Make notes for each section of your essay before you write. This makes it easy for you to write a well-structured text that flows naturally to a conclusion. You will develop each note into a paragraph. Look at this example by College Essay for useful ideas about the structure.
This is a short, informative section that shows you understand the purpose of the text. It tempts the reader to find out more by mentioning what will come in the main body of your essay.
- Name the author of the text and the title of their work followed by the date in parentheses
- Use a verb to describe what the author does, e.g. “implies,” “asserts,” or “claims”
- Briefly summarize the text in your own words
- Mention the persuasive techniques used by the rhetor and its effect
Create a thesis statement to come at the end of your introduction.
After your introduction, move on to your critical analysis. This is the principal part of your essay.
- Explain the methods used by the author to inform, entertain, and/or persuade the audience using Aristotle's rhetorical triangle
- Use quotations to prove the statements you make
- Explain why the writer used this approach and how successful it is
- Consider how it makes the audience feel and react
Make each strategy a new paragraph rather than cramming them together, and always use proper citations. Check back to your course handbook if you’re unsure which citation style is preferred.
Your conclusion should summarize the points you’ve made in the main body of your essay. While you will draw the points together, this is not the place to introduce new information you’ve not previously mentioned.
Use your last sentence to share a powerful concluding statement that talks about the impact the text has on the audience(s) and wider society. How have its strategies helped to shape history?
Before You Submit
Poor spelling and grammatical errors ruin a great essay. Use ProWritingAid to check through your finished essay before you submit. It will pick up all the minor errors you’ve missed and help you give your essay a final polish. Look at this useful ProWritingAid webinar for further ideas to help you significantly improve your essays. Sign up for a free trial today and start editing your essays!
You’ll find countless examples of rhetorical analysis online, but they range widely in quality. Your institution may have example essays they can share with you to show you exactly what they’re looking for.
The following links should give you a good starting point if you’re looking for ideas:
Pearson Canada has a range of good examples. Look at how embedded quotations are used to prove the points being made. The end questions help you unpick how successful each essay is.
Excelsior College has an excellent sample essay complete with useful comments highlighting the techniques used.
Brighton Online has a selection of interesting essays to look at. In this specific example, consider how wider reading has deepened the exploration of the text.
Writing a rhetorical analysis essay can seem daunting, but spending significant time deeply analyzing the text before you write will make it far more achievable and result in a better-quality essay overall.
It can take some time to write a good essay. Aim to complete it well before the deadline so you don’t feel rushed. Use ProWritingAid’s comprehensive checks to find any errors and make changes to improve readability. Then you’ll be ready to submit your finished essay, knowing it’s as good as you can possibly make it.
Try ProWritingAid's Editor for Yourself
Helly Douglas is a UK writer and teacher, specialising in education, children, and parenting. She loves making the complex seem simple through blogs, articles, and curriculum content. You can check out her work at hellydouglas.com or connect on Twitter . When she’s not writing, you will find her in a classroom, being a mum or battling against the wilderness of her garden - the garden is winning!
Learn everything you need to know about grammar.
Great Writing, Made Easier.
A grammar checker, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.
Try it for free today.
Drop us a line or let's stay in touch via :
A rhetorical analysis asks you to explain how writers or speakers within specific social situations attempt to influence others through discourse (including written or spoken language, images, gestures, and so on). A rhetorical analysis is not a summary. It also does not ask you to agree or disagree with the author’s argument. Instead, the purpose of a rhetorical analysis is to make an argument about how an author conveys their message to a particular audience: you’re exploring the author’s goals, describing the techniques or tools used and providing examples of those techniques, and analyzing the effectiveness of those techniques.
To write a rhetorical analysis, you’ll first break down the rhetorical situation and analyze the author’s rhetorical strategies.
The rhetorical situation is the communicative context of a text, which includes:
Audience : The specific or intended audience of a text.
Author/speaker/writer : The person or group of people who composed the text.
Purpose : To inform, persuade, entertain; what the author wants the audience to believe, know, feel, or do.
Exigence : The text’s reason for being, such as an event, situation, or position within an ongoing debate that the writer is responding to.
Message : The content of the text, the key point(s) the author is communicating to the audience.
Medium and genre : The delivery method, which includes broadly and narrowly defined categories of communication such as:
- Alphabetic text (newspaper editorials, peer-reviewed academic articles, magazine feature essays),
- Images (advertisements, photographs),
- Sound (speeches, radio commercials, songs),
- Multimodal texts (YouTube videos, performances, graphic novels).
After breaking down the rhetorical situation, you need to analyze how the author uses rhetorical techniques to convey the message. As you analyze the text, consider:
- How effectively does the author use the ethos appeal to accomplish their intended purpose? In other words, how does the author convince the audience of their credibility, authority, or trustworthiness? What qualifications do they have to address this topic? How does the author demonstrate shared values with the audience?
- How effectively does the author use the pathos appeal to accomplish their intended purpose? In other words, how does the author evoke emotions of pity, sympathy, anger, courage, happiness, sorrow, etc. in the audience? How does the author establish a bond with the audience? What kinds of images, colors, words, sounds does the author use to evoke these feelings?
- How effectively does the author use the logos appeal to accomplish their intended purpose? What evidence and types of reasoning does the author use? How does the author arrange their ideas or order their main points? Does the author use repetition, inductive logic, or deductive logic? Does the author refer to precedents? Address alternative arguments or viewpoints?
Writing a Thesis for Your Rhetorical Analysis
After you’ve analyzed the rhetorical situation and rhetorical strategies, you’ll need to create a thesis for your rhetorical analysis. Often, the thesis statement will assess the author’s effectiveness in accomplishing their purpose with the intended audience through the use of rhetorical strategies.
You might adapt a template like this one: “In [text], [author] effectively convinces [audience] of [message] by [rhetorical strategies].”
Here’s an example: The webpage “Rhetorical Analysis,” written by the Writers Workshop, effectively informs students about how to write a rhetorical analysis by breaking down the elements of the rhetorical situation in an easy-to-read list, posing a series of questions about rhetorical strategies, and capitalizing on the Workshop’s ethos as the campus writing center.
Reading Scholarly Sources
Copyright University of Illinois Board of Trustees Developed by ATLAS | Web Privacy Notice
Chapter 6: Thinking and Analyzing Rhetorically
6.3 What is Rhetorical Analysis?
Rhetoric: The art of persuasion
Analysis: Breaking down the whole into pieces for the purpose of examination
Unlike summary, a rhetorical analysis does not only require a restatement of ideas; instead, you must recognize rhetorical moves that an author is making in an attempt to persuade his or her audience to do or to think something. In the 21st century’s abundance of information, it can sometimes be difficult to discern what is a rhetorical strategy and what is simple manipulation; however, an understanding of rhetoric and rhetorical moves will help you become more savvy with the information surrounding you on a day-to-day basis. In other words, rhetorical moves can be a form of manipulation, but if one can recognize those moves, then one can be a more critical consumer of information rather than blindly accepting whatever one reads, sees, hears, etc.
The goal of a rhetorical analysis is to explain what is happening in the text, why the author might have chosen to use a particular move or set of rhetorical moves, and how those choices might affect the audience. The text you analyze might be explanatory, although there will be aspects of argument because you must negotiate with what the author is trying to do and what you think the author is doing. Edward P.J. Corbett observes, rhetorical analysis “is more interested in a literary work for what it does than for what it is” (qtd. in Nordqvist).
One of the elements of doing a rhetorical analysis is looking at a text’s rhetorical situation. The rhetorical situation is the context out of a which a text is created.
- The questions that you can use to examine a text’s rhetorical situation are in Chapter 6.2 .
Another element of rhetorical analysis is simply reading and summarizing the text. You have to be able to describe the basics of the author’s thesis and main points before you can begin to analyze it.
- The questions that you can use to summarize a text are in Chapter 5.1
A third element of rhetorical analysis requires you to connect the rhetorical situation to the text. You need to go beyond summarizing and look at how the author shapes his or her text based on its context. In developing your reading and analytical skills, allow yourself to think about what you’re reading, to question the text and your responses to it, as you read. Use the following questions to help you to take the text apart—dissecting it to see how it works:
- Does the author successfully support the thesis or claim? Is the point held consistently throughout the text, or does it wander at any point?
- Is the evidence the author used effective for the intended audience? How might the intended audience respond to the types of evidence that the author used to support the thesis/claim?
- What rhetorical moves do you see the author making to help achieve his or her purpose? Are there word choices or content choices that seem to you to be clearly related to the author’s agenda for the text or that might appeal to the intended audience?
- Describe the tone in the piece. Is it friendly? Authoritative? Does it lecture? Is it biting or sarcastic? Does the author use simple language, or is it full of jargon? Does the language feel positive or negative? Point to aspects of the text that create the tone; spend some time examining these and considering how and why they work. (Learn more about tone in Section 4.5 “ Tone, Voice, and Point of View . ”)
- Is the author objective, or does he or she try to convince you to have a certain opinion? Why does the author try to persuade you to adopt this viewpoint? If the author is biased, does this interfere with the way you read and understand the text?
- Do you feel like the author knows who you are? Does the text seem to be aimed at readers like you or at a different audience? What assumptions does the author make about their audience? Would most people find these reasonable, acceptable, or accurate?
- Does the text’s flow make sense? Is the line of reasoning logical? Are there any gaps? Are there any spots where you feel the reasoning is flawed in some way?
- Does the author try to appeal to your emotions? Does the author use any controversial words in the headline or the article? Do these affect your reading or your interest?
- Do you believe the author? Do you accept their thoughts and ideas? Why or why not?
It is also a good idea to revisit Section 2.3 “How to Read Rhetorically.” This chapter will compliment the rhetorical questions listed above and help you clearly determine the text’s rhetorical situation.
Once you have done this basic, rhetorical, critical reading of your text, you are ready to think about how the rhetorical situation ( Section 6.2 ) – the context out of which the text arises – influences certain rhetorical appeals ( Section 6.4 ) that appear in it.
This chapter contains material from “The Word on College Reading and Writing” by Monique Babin, Carol Burnell, Susan Pesznecker, Nicole Rosevear, Jaime Wood , OpenOregon Educational Resources , Higher Education Coordination Commission: Office of Community Colleges and Workforce Development is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0
A Guide to Rhetoric, Genre, and Success in First-Year Writing by Melanie Gagich & Emilie Zickel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
Comments are closed.
- Affiliate Program
- UNITED STATES
- 台灣 (TAIWAN)
- TÜRKIYE (TURKEY)
Academic Editing Services
- - Research Paper
- - Journal Manuscript
- - Dissertation
- - College & University Assignments
Admissions Editing Services
- - Application Essay
- - Personal Statement
- - Recommendation Letter
- - Cover Letter
- - CV/Resume
Business Editing Services
- - Business Documents
- - Report & Brochure
- - Website & Blog
Writer Editing Services
- - Script & Screenplay
- Editing & Proofreading Prices
- Wordvice Points
- Partner Discount
- Plagiarism Checker
- APA Citation Generator
- MLA Citation Generator
- Chicago Citation Generator
- Vancouver Citation Generator
- - APA Style
- - MLA Style
- - Chicago Style
- - Vancouver Style
- Writing & Editing Guide
- Academic Resources
- Admissions Resources
How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay–Examples & Template
What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?
A rhetorical analysis essay is, as the name suggests, an analysis of someone else’s writing (or speech, or advert, or even cartoon) and how they use not only words but also rhetorical techniques to influence their audience in a certain way. A rhetorical analysis is less interested in what the author is saying and more in how they present it, what effect this has on their readers, whether they achieve their goals, and what approach they use to get there.
Its structure is similar to that of most essays: An Introduction presents your thesis, a Body analyzes the text you have chosen, breaks it down into sections and explains how arguments have been constructed and how each part persuades, informs, or entertains the reader, and a Conclusion section sums up your evaluation.
Note that your personal opinion on the matter is not relevant for your analysis and that you don’t state anywhere in your essay whether you agree or disagree with the stance the author takes.
In the following, we will define the key rhetorical concepts you need to write a good rhetorical analysis and give you some practical tips on where to start.
Key Rhetorical Concepts
Your goal when writing a rhetorical analysis is to think about and then carefully describe how the author has designed their text so that it has the intended effect on their audience. To do that, you need to consider a number of key rhetorical strategies: Rhetorical appeals (“Ethos”, “Logos”, and “Pathos”), context, as well as claims, supports, and warrants.
Ethos, Logos, and Pathos were introduced by Aristotle, way back in the 4th century BC, as the main ways in which language can be used to persuade an audience. They still represent the basis of any rhetorical analysis and are often referred to as the “rhetorical triangle”.
These and other rhetorical techniques can all be combined to create the intended effect, and your job as the one analyzing a text is to break the writer’s arguments down and identify the concepts they are based on.
Rhetorical appeal #1: ethos.
Ethos refers to the reputation or authority of the writer regarding the topic of their essay or speech and to how they use this to appeal to their audience. Just like we are more likely to buy a product from a brand or vendor we have confidence in than one we don’t know or have reason to distrust, Ethos-driven texts or speeches rely on the reputation of the author to persuade the reader or listener. When you analyze an essay, you should therefore look at how the writer establishes Ethos through rhetorical devices.
Does the author present themselves as an authority on their subject? If so, how?
Do they highlight how impeccable their own behavior is to make a moral argument?
Do they present themselves as an expert by listing their qualifications or experience to convince the reader of their opinion on something?
Rhetorical appeal #2: Pathos
The purpose of Pathos-driven rhetoric is to appeal to the reader’s emotions. A common example of pathos as a rhetorical means is adverts by charities that try to make you donate money to a “good cause”. To evoke the intended emotions in the reader, an author may use passionate language, tell personal stories, and employ vivid imagery so that the reader can imagine themselves in a certain situation and feel empathy with or anger towards others.
Rhetorical appeal #3: Logos
Logos, the “logical” appeal, uses reason to persuade. Reason and logic, supported by data, evidence, clearly defined methodology, and well-constructed arguments, are what most academic writing is based on. Emotions, those of the researcher/writer as well as those of the reader, should stay out of such academic texts, as should anyone’s reputation, beliefs, or personal opinions.
Text and Context
To analyze a piece of writing, a speech, an advertisement, or even a satirical drawing, you need to look beyond the piece of communication and take the context in which it was created and/or published into account.
Who is the person who wrote the text/drew the cartoon/designed the ad..? What audience are they trying to reach? Where was the piece published and what was happening there around that time?
A political speech, for example, can be powerful even when read decades later, but the historical context surrounding it is an important aspect of the effect it was intended to have.
Claims, Supports, and Warrants
To make any kind of argument, a writer needs to put forward specific claims, support them with data or evidence or even a moral or emotional appeal, and connect the dots logically so that the reader can follow along and agree with the points made.
The connections between statements, so-called “warrants”, follow logical reasoning but are not always clearly stated—the author simply assumes the reader understands the underlying logic, whether they present it “explicitly” or “implicitly”. Implicit warrants are commonly used in advertisements where seemingly happy people use certain products, wear certain clothes, accessories, or perfumes, or live certain lifestyles – with the connotation that, first, the product/perfume/lifestyle is what makes that person happy and, second, the reader wants to be as happy as the person in the ad. Some warrants are never clearly stated, and your job when writing a rhetorical analysis essay is therefore to identify them and bring them to light, to evaluate their validity, their effect on the reader, and the use of such means by the writer/creator.
What are the Five Rhetorical Situations?
A “rhetorical situation” refers to the circumstance behind a text or other piece of communication that arises from a given context. It explains why a rhetorical piece was created, what its purpose is, and how it was constructed to achieve its aims.
Rhetorical situations can be classified into the following five categories:
Asking such questions when you analyze a text will help you identify all the aspects that play a role in the effect it has on its audience, and will allow you to evaluate whether it achieved its aims or where it may have failed to do so.
Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline
Analyzing someone else’s work can seem like a big task, but as with every assignment or writing endeavor, you can break it down into smaller, well-defined steps that give you a practical structure to follow.
To give you an example of how the different parts of your text may look when it’s finished, we will provide you with some excerpts from this rhetorical analysis essay example (which even includes helpful comments) published on the Online Writing Lab website of Excelsior University in Albany, NY. The text that this essay analyzes is this article on why one should or shouldn’t buy an Ipad. If you want more examples so that you can build your own rhetorical analysis template, have a look at this essay on Nabokov’s Lolita and the one provided here about the “Shitty First Drafts” chapter of Anne Lamott’s writing instruction book “Bird by Bird”.
Analyzing the Text
When writing a rhetorical analysis, you don’t choose the concepts or key points you think are relevant or want to address. Rather, you carefully read the text several times asking yourself questions like those listed in the last section on rhetorical situations to identify how the text “works” and how it was written to achieve that effect.
Start with focusing on the author : What do you think was their purpose for writing the text? Do they make one principal claim and then elaborate on that? Or do they discuss different topics?
Then look at what audience they are talking to: Do they want to make a group of people take some action? Vote for someone? Donate money to a good cause? Who are these people? Is the text reaching this specific audience? Why or why not?
What tone is the author using to address their audience? Are they trying to evoke sympathy? Stir up anger? Are they writing from a personal perspective? Are they painting themselves as an authority on the topic? Are they using academic or informal language?
How does the author support their claims ? What kind of evidence are they presenting? Are they providing explicit or implicit warrants? Are these warrants valid or problematic? Is the provided evidence convincing?
Asking yourself such questions will help you identify what rhetorical devices a text uses and how well they are put together to achieve a certain aim. Remember, your own opinion and whether you agree with the author are not the point of a rhetorical analysis essay – your task is simply to take the text apart and evaluate it.
If you are still confused about how to write a rhetorical analysis essay, just follow the steps outlined below to write the different parts of your rhetorical analysis: As every other essay, it consists of an Introduction , a Body (the actual analysis), and a Conclusion .
Rhetorical Analysis Introduction
The Introduction section briefly presents the topic of the essay you are analyzing, the author, their main claims, a short summary of the work by you, and your thesis statement .
Tell the reader what the text you are going to analyze represents (e.g., historically) or why it is relevant (e.g., because it has become some kind of reference for how something is done). Describe what the author claims, asserts, or implies and what techniques they use to make their argument and persuade their audience. Finish off with your thesis statement that prepares the reader for what you are going to present in the next section – do you think that the author’s assumptions/claims/arguments were presented in a logical/appealing/powerful way and reached their audience as intended?
Have a look at an excerpt from the sample essay linked above to see what a rhetorical analysis introduction can look like. See how it introduces the author and article , the context in which it originally appeared , the main claims the author makes , and how this first paragraph ends in a clear thesis statement that the essay will then elaborate on in the following Body section:
Cory Doctorow ’s article on BoingBoing is an older review of the iPad , one of Apple’s most famous products. At the time of this article, however, the iPad was simply the latest Apple product to hit the market and was not yet so popular. Doctorow’s entire career has been entrenched in and around technology. He got his start as a CD-ROM programmer and is now a successful blogger and author. He is currently the co-editor of the BoingBoing blog on which this article was posted. One of his main points in this article comes from Doctorow’s passionate advocacy of free digital media sharing. He argues that the iPad is just another way for established technology companies to control our technological freedom and creativity . In “ Why I Won’t Buy an iPad (and Think You Shouldn’t, Either) ” published on Boing Boing in April of 2010, Cory Doctorow successfully uses his experience with technology, facts about the company Apple, and appeals to consumer needs to convince potential iPad buyers that Apple and its products, specifically the iPad, limit the digital rights of those who use them by controlling and mainstreaming the content that can be used and created on the device .
Doing the Rhetorical Analysis
The main part of your analysis is the Body , where you dissect the text in detail. Explain what methods the author uses to inform, entertain, and/or persuade the audience. Use Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle and the other key concepts we introduced above. Use quotations from the essay to demonstrate what you mean. Work out why the writer used a certain approach and evaluate (and again, demonstrate using the text itself) how successful they were. Evaluate the effect of each rhetorical technique you identify on the audience and judge whether the effect is in line with the author’s intentions.
To make it easy for the reader to follow your thought process, divide this part of your essay into paragraphs that each focus on one strategy or one concept , and make sure they are all necessary and contribute to the development of your argument(s).
One paragraph of this section of your essay could, for example, look like this:
One example of Doctorow’s position is his comparison of Apple’s iStore to Wal-Mart. This is an appeal to the consumer’s logic—or an appeal to logos. Doctorow wants the reader to take his comparison and consider how an all-powerful corporation like the iStore will affect them. An iPad will only allow for apps and programs purchased through the iStore to be run on it; therefore, a customer must not only purchase an iPad but also any programs he or she wishes to use. Customers cannot create their own programs or modify the hardware in any way.
As you can see, the author of this sample essay identifies and then explains to the reader how Doctorow uses the concept of Logos to appeal to his readers – not just by pointing out that he does it but by dissecting how it is done.
Rhetorical Analysis Conclusion
The conclusion section of your analysis should restate your main arguments and emphasize once more whether you think the author achieved their goal. Note that this is not the place to introduce new information—only rely on the points you have discussed in the body of your essay. End with a statement that sums up the impact the text has on its audience and maybe society as a whole:
Overall, Doctorow makes a good argument about why there are potentially many better things to drop a great deal of money on instead of the iPad. He gives some valuable information and facts that consumers should take into consideration before going out to purchase the new device. He clearly uses rhetorical tools to help make his case, and, overall, he is effective as a writer, even if, ultimately, he was ineffective in convincing the world not to buy an iPad .
Frequently Asked Questions about Rhetorical Analysis Essays
What is a rhetorical analysis essay.
A rhetorical analysis dissects a text or another piece of communication to work out and explain how it impacts its audience, how successfully it achieves its aims, and what rhetorical devices it uses to do that.
While argumentative essays usually take a stance on a certain topic and argue for it, a rhetorical analysis identifies how someone else constructs their arguments and supports their claims.
What is the correct rhetorical analysis essay format?
Like most other essays, a rhetorical analysis contains an Introduction that presents the thesis statement, a Body that analyzes the piece of communication, explains how arguments have been constructed, and illustrates how each part persuades, informs, or entertains the reader, and a Conclusion section that summarizes the results of the analysis.
What is the “rhetorical triangle”?
The rhetorical triangle was introduced by Aristotle as the main ways in which language can be used to persuade an audience: Logos appeals to the audience’s reason, Ethos to the writer’s status or authority, and Pathos to the reader’s emotions. Logos, Ethos, and Pathos can all be combined to create the intended effect, and your job as the one analyzing a text is to break the writer’s arguments down and identify what specific concepts each is based on.
Let Wordvice help you write a flawless rhetorical analysis essay!
Whether you have to write a rhetorical analysis essay as an assignment or whether it is part of an application, our professional proofreading services feature professional editors are trained subject experts that make sure your text is in line with the required format, as well as help you improve the flow and expression of your writing. Let them be your second pair of eyes so that after receiving paper editing services or essay editing services from Wordvice, you can submit your manuscript or apply to the school of your dreams with confidence.
And check out our editing services for writers (including blog editing , script editing , and book editing ) to correct your important personal or business-related work.
- A Research Guide
- Writing Guide
- Essay Writing
What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay
Commentaries, documentaries, T.V. shows, famous art collections, even historical books. A rhetorical analysis can be written about many different mediums. The aim of a rhetorical analysis is to determine how a creator of the work analyzed came up with their argument. When you write a critical analysis essay, you may even wish to determine whether or not the original argument was successful or failed.
The particular writing style used when authoring a rhetorical analysis varies slightly from that of a conventional essay, slightly more insight is required. Continue reading for more information on how to write a rhetorical analysis essay.
Understanding what is a rhetorical analysis essay
Often times, writers and public speakers tend to use linguistics to influence or engage with their audience. The field of studies which concerns this practice is referred to as ‘rhetoric’.
Occasionally, a writer will dissect works of non-fiction in order to determine how each piece of the original work fits together in order to convey a specific message or effect, this is called a rhetorical analysis or rhetorical analysis essay. The writer might find that the original creator used certain verbiage or created specific imagery in order to entertain the audience, or to inform them, or perhaps to create a call-to-action. Nearly every medium can be the subject of a rhetorical analysis, including cartoons and political speeches. The person whose work is being analyzed is often labeled the ‘rhetorician.’
The objective of the analysis is to get insight into the specific aims of the rhetorician, as well as the particular techniques and tools they have employed, and to provide examples of those tools and techniques in action and to discuss the actual efficiency of the tools they’ve used. The purpose of authoring a rhetorical paper is not to oppose or agree with a particular side of the argument, but rather to discuss how the rhetorician delivers their argument and if their approach is successful or not.
What is an analysis
Used frequently in education, research, and even everyday life, an analysis is the act of segregating various elements of complex text with the intent of developing a stronger comprehension of the work as a whole. The process of analyzing something means considering its real meaning, asking how it works or determining why it does what it does.
What is a rhetorical analysis
Prior to delving into what a rhetorical analysis, it is essential to discuss and know what it is not. A rhetorical analysis, while exploratory in nature, should not be confused with a research paper or article, and despite being consider a vehicle to explore literary works, it is not an example of a literary work itself. The purpose of a rhetorical paper is not to try to know the underlying meaning of the work being analyzed.
Understanding rhetorical analysis definition
The very definition of a rhetorical analysis implies that the person conducting the analysis call upon their critical thinking skills in order to dissect various elements of the work being analyzed. Essentially, this involves breaking the entire written work into sections and viewing each section objectively.
The primary objective of this type of analytical paper is to convey HOW the original author writes, rather than merely reflecting upon WHAT they wrote. To do this effectively, the very important thing you should do is to analyze different strategies used by the writer in question in order to achieve their overall goal or determine the purpose of their writing. Remember that writers from different backgrounds will often call upon different strategies in an attempt to meet their objective. Based on this understanding, it is acceptable to use different existing techniques of writing analysis to explore various works. For example, you wouldn’t use the same technique to explore a scientific report as you would to explore a historical paper. Given that each of the original authors had very unique goals in mind, it is only logical that they would utilize different writing style.
Read also: What are the right words to start an essay ?
The first step learn how to start a rhetorical analysis paper is finding a good article or literary work that you would like to base your analysis on.
From there, you will read (and possibly even re-read) the work you’ve selected. As you read the text, attempt to identify the thesis or the main ideas and principal arguments that the author is endeavoring to convey.
Once you’ve identified the thesis and have begun to develop a stronger understanding for the author’s argument, you will need to start analyzing the rhetorical features of the text. This involves re-reading the text, with the following questions in mind:
- Clearly define the thesis statement, explaining what exactly is the argument that the writer endeavours to make?
- What topic has the author elected to study? Why have they chosen this?
- What is the author’s intent? Do they want to persuade, or inform, or educate or criticize?
- Who is the audience that the author is trying to speak to?
- Does the author arrange his or her ideas in chronological order? If not, how are they arranged?
- How does the author use literary devices like diction?
- Does the author use quotes? Why?
- Are key points or terms repeated?
- How is the article structured? Is it exclamatory, imperative or declarative?
- Does the author utilize punctuation in order to create a specific effect?
The primary objective is to not only source for the answers to the questions presented above, but also to determine why exactly it is that the author has chosen to write in the style that they have written in. Remember, WHY not HOW. For example, when determining how the target audience is, consider why exactly the author would want to write for those specific individuals.
You can find out more on Chicago Annotated Bibliography .
Rhetorical analysis strategies
While there are many schools of thought on the best method to utilize while conducting a rhetorical analysis, at the top of the rhetorical strategy list is what is commonly referred to as the SOAPSTone method.
Created as a method for breaking down the work of professional writers, the SOAPSTone method presents those writing an analysis with the information they need in order to develop rhetorical criticism. An acronym, SOAPSTone stands for Speaking, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, Subject, and Tone. By using this strategy, it is possible to refer to any text and construct a strong sense for what the original author intended and how their target audience may have reacted to it.
The six parts of the SOAPSTone strategy are:
- SPEAKER: Figure out who the speaker is. Determine who is telling the story or relaying the information. Are they a narrator? Or perhaps a character, or is it the author themselves? What other important details or information should be known?
- OCCASION: Determine what the specific occasion is. The occasion (also known as the setting) refers to the place and time that the story takes place in. Consider the geography or era. What other relevant details are offered in the text?
- AUDIENCE: Who is the author speaking to? Could there be more than once audience? Why was this specific text written to this particular audience?
- PURPOSE: Why has the author chosen to write this message? What do they want to get across? Is the author’s thesis or goal clear?
- SUBJECT: After uncovering who the target audience may be, it is necessary to investigate the subject. What is the underlying meaning? What other information is revealed?
- TONE: Investigate the tone, evaluate each literary device and how the text is organized. What emotions does the audience have?
What are rhetorical strategies
Also referred to as rhetorical modes, rhetorical strategies are used by writers in order to allow them to better structure or analyze paragraphs or entire essays. Essentially, these types of strategies, or devices, enable writers to utilize patterns to effectively express their thoughts and ideas. The most commonly taught rhetorical strategies are:
- Cause and Effect
- Comparison and Contrast
- Process Analysis
The above-mentioned writing analyzers will be explained in further detail below.
Types of rhetorical strategies
Description: As most would agree, a great description has the potential to create strong images in the minds of the audience. An author might utilize an objective description, where they will describe the physical appearance of a character or location without any sort of emotion, or they may utilize a subjective description, where the feelings of the writer are clearly evident based on the description.
Narration: The terms ‘narrative’ refers to the scope of the storyline, where it takes place, who is in it, and what the most important elements are. A narrative will focus on the action of the plot, but will also include descriptions, themes, and ideas.
Exemplification: Mankind learns by example, and when presented with written text, it is the use of examples that allows us to learn at a much more rapid pace. Typically, and example is used to relate to a real world scenario regarding the argument or idea that the author is attempting to deliver.
Cause and Effect: The term Cause and Effect is just as it sounds, exploring the cause of a particular element or event and exploring the effect of that same element or event.
Comparison and Contract: When comparing one or more things, you determine how they are similar. When contrasting one or more things, you determine how they are different. Typically, you would compare things that are different from each other to determine how they are related. Moreover, you would contract things that are similar to each other to determine how they differ.
Process Analysis: Process analysis challenges the writer to answer the question “HOW”. More specially, the analysis thesis would answer the question “How does this happen or occur?”
Rhetorical analysis thesis
There are a few things that should be kept in mind when writing a thesis statement for a rhetorical analysis essay.
- Never speak in first person or use words like “I think that” or “I believe that”
- Your thesis statement will serve as a roadmap to your essay and guide your reader
- Your thesis statement should assert the conclusion and also highlight the rhetorical strategies deployed by the author
- Your thesis statement should clearly illustrate which techniques you intend to analyze and discuss the impact that each technique has on the text and its overall effectiveness.
Remember, a thesis statement for a rhetorical analysis paper is NOT:
- A vague statement of the topic
- A declaration of facts or statistics
- A summary of the original author’s works
- A declaration of what will be explored in the essay
Rhetorical analysis outline
Detailed below is an easy to follow outline for an analytical paper. Remember that this is only a guide and can be customized as needed.
- Clearly state your subject or topic
- Declare you purpose
- Spark interest in your audience
If you need some help or have certain difficulties you can always Pay Someone for Essay to get them done with little efforts.
SUMMARIZE THE RHETORICAL ANALYSIS
- Explore the issue – it may be helpful to phrase this as a YES or NO question
- Determine the context
- Figure out who is making the argument
- Determine who the intended audience is
- Uncover the main argument or thesis
- Decide what sort of argument is being presented
- How is the argument presented
- What are the assumptions of the argument
SUMMARY OF THE ARGUMENT and APPEALS
- Describe the character of the writer, what type of person are they
- What credential or qualifications do they have
- Do they act on good faith, are they respectable, are they likeable
- What tone does the author use, how do they think
- What claims are made in the thesis statement
- How are they supported? What evidence is made available?
- Provide as much detail as possible
- What kind of emotion is presented in the argument
- How does the writer want the audience to feel
- What tools does the author use to call upon these feelings
SUMMARY OF HOW THE ARGUMENT IS VIEWED
- Does the text recognise opposing views or other evidence? If so, does it accept other views or negate them?
- Does the text combat opposing views? If so, how?
SUMMARY OF THE STREGNTHS AND WEAKNESSES
- Are you able to clearly identify errors or other problems?
- What are the strengths of the argument?
Rhetorical analysis essay example
The examples of rhetorical analysis essays can be found on the Internet. It is best to go through them to know the common writing patterns as well as the mistakes students often do, before you start preparing your own paper.
Sign Up for your FREE account
Diana from A Research Guide Don't know how to start your paper? Worry no more! Get professional writing assistance from our partner. Click to learn more
You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.
Howe Center for Writing Excellence
A rhetorical analysis considers all elements of the rhetorical situation--the audience, purpose, medium, and context--within which a communication was generated and delivered in order to make an argument about that communication. A strong rhetorical analysis will not only describe and analyze the text, but will also evaluate it; that evaluation represents your argument.
- Description: What does this text look like? Where did you find the text? Who sponsored it? What are the rhetorical appeals? (i.e. calm music in the background of a commercial establishes pathos) When was it written?
- Analysis: Why does the author incorporate these rhetorical appeals? (For example, why does the author incorporate calm music? What is the point of the pathos?) How would the reception of this text change if it were written today, as opposed to twenty years ago? What is left out of this text and why? Should there be more logos in the ad? Why?
- Evaluation: Is the text effective? Is the text ethical? What might you change about this text to make it more persuasive?
- Classically, "the art of persuasion".
- “About using language purposefully, in order to get something done in the world" (“What is Rhetoric").
- “Something that allows you to formulate ethical reading strategies [...] but also to invent your own responses to the world" (“What is Rhetoric").
Keywords and Concepts
Following are some basic terms and concepts (far from inclusive) that you should consider and use in a rhetorical analysis.
The rhetorical situation identifies the relationship among the elements of any communication--audience, author (rhetor), purpose, medium, context, and content.
Spectator, listeners, and/or readers of a performance, a speech, a reading, or printed material. Depending on the author’s/writer’s perception, an audience may be real (actually listening or reading), invoked (those to whom the writer explicitly writes) or imagined(those who the writer believes will read/hear her work) (Dept. of English)
The person or group of people who composed the text.
Purpose of the Author
The reason for communicating; the expected or intended outcome.
The delivery method, which varies by type of text:
- Alphabetic Text (for example, written speech, newspaper editorial, essay, passage out of a novel, poetry)
- Images (for example, TV commercials, advertisements in magazines or on websites)
- Sound (for example, radio or TV commercials, a website advertisement, speeches)
- Multimodal texts (YouTube videos, performances, digital stories)
The time, place, public conversations surrounding the text during its original generation and delivery; the text may also be analyzed within a different context such as how an historical text would be received by its audience today.
The main idea, thesis, opinion, or belief of an argument that the author must prove. The claim should be debatable and answer the question, "What’s the point?"
The statements given to back up the claim. These can take the form of facts, data, personal experience, expert opinion, evidence from other texts or sources, emotional appeals, or other means. The more reliable and comprehensive the support, the more likely the audience is to accept the claim.
The connection, often unstated and assumed, between the claim and the supporting reason(s), or support. The warrant is the assumption that makes the claim seem plausible. More specifically, warrants are the beliefs, values, inferences and/or experiences that the writers/speakers assume they share with the audience. If the audience doesn’t share the writers'/speakers' assumptions within the text, the argument will not be effective.
The elements of the rhetorical situation interact with and influence one another. In learning to write an analysis, it is thus helpful to think about the relationship among these elements within the rhetorical triangle. By doing this, writers will be able to better understand how the elements of each text come together (often overlap) to make an argument or persuade an audience.
The authority or credibility of the author. Can refer to any of the following: the actual character of the speaker/writer, the character of the writer as it is presented in a text, or as a series of ground rules/customs, which are negotiated between speaker, audience, and specific traditions or locations. The speaker must convince the audience of their credibility through the language they use and through the delivery, or embodied performance, of their speech.
Did you analyze ethos enough in your essay?
- Have you looked at what experiences or claims to authority qualify this author to speak or write?
- Have you considered the credibility and moral character of the writer/speaker?
- Have you considered the design or appearance of the text you are analyzing? Does it look professional? What can you say about the author based on the appearance of the text alone?
Emotional appeals to the audience to evoke feelings of pity, sympathy, tenderness, or sorrow. The speaker may also want the audience to feel anger, fear, courage, love, happiness, sadness, etc.
Have you analyzed pathos enough in your essay?
- Have you considered how the author appeals to the emotions of the reader/viewer?◦How does the author establish a bond with his audience?
- How might the author change his strategy if he was trying to establish a bond with a different audience?
- Have you considered your own personal reaction to the background music of this advertisement?
- What kinds of feelings do the colors that the author uses provoke?
- What other images in the text provoke an emotional response? Why would the author include these images?
In classical rhetoric, logos is the means of persuasion by demonstration of the truth, real or apparent, the reasons or supporting information used to support a claim, the use of logic or reason to make an argument. Logos can include citing facts and statistics, historical events, and other forms of fact based evidence.
Do you analyze logos enough in your essay?
- How does the author back up his argument in this text? Does he incorporate facts, statistics, or numbers?
- Have you considered how logical the author’s argument is?
- Are the claims this author is making realistic?
- Does the author consider alternative arguments?
The right time to speak or write; advantageous, exact, or critical time; a window of time during which action is most effective. (Ex. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a dream speech was delivered at the right moment in history—in the heat of civil rights debates.)
Literally, stasis is “a stand" or a “resting place" in an argument where opponents agree on what the issue is but disagree on what to do about it. The skilled rhetor is able to move the argument away from stasis. (Ex. Rhetor A asserts that abortion is murder. Rhetor B asserts that abortion is not murder. This is the point of stasis. The argument cannot rest here indefinitely. One of these rhetors must get the argument beyond the issue of murder.)
A “who am I” essay is a simple type of open-ended introductory essay. It is used in certain schools, workplaces and around the world to help members of a group introduce themselves through their writing. They are generally about a page long...
An essay’s general statement is a broad introduction to the paper’s topic. For example, a persuasive essay aimed at convincing the reader to take action against global warming might begin with a brief description of what climate change mean...
Knowing how to write a college essay is a useful skill for anyone who plans to go to college. Most colleges and universities ask you to submit a writing sample with your application. As a student, you’ll also write essays in your courses.
A rhetorical analysis is a type of essay that looks at a text in terms of rhetoric. This means it is less concerned with what the author is
A rhetorical analysis essay analyzes the devices of persuasion and their effectiveness. It breaks down an author's argument and examines not what is said, but
A rhetorical analysis is an essay that breaks a work of non-fiction into parts and then explains how the parts work together to create a certain
How do you write a rhetorical analysis essay · 1. Gather information · 2. Examine the appeals · 3. Identify style choices and details · 4. Build an
A rhetorical analysis essay studies how writers and speakers have used words to influence their audience. Think less about the words the author
A rhetorical analysis asks you to explain how writers or speakers within specific social situations attempt to influence others through discourse (including
The goal of a rhetorical analysis is to explain what is happening in the text, why the author might have chosen to use a particular move or set of rhetorical
A rhetorical analysis essay is, as the name suggests, an analysis of someone else's writing (or speech, or advert, or even cartoon) and how
The very definition of a rhetorical analysis implies that the person conducting the analysis call upon their critical thinking skills in order to dissect
A rhetorical analysis considers all elements of the rhetorical situation--the audience, purpose, medium, and context--within which a communication was
Transcript: Today, I will be going over how to write a rhetorical analysis essay. This is an essay to expect if you are taking the AP